You were made for one purpose: to be a saint. For many of us, this may evoke a sense of doubt and disbelief. We raise the white flag in our hearts and believe that we are not good enough. In our minds, the saints represent a super-holy, select group of people that tower so highly above us that we can hardly make sense of or relate to. Some of their virtues and accomplishments seem so lofty that we are prone to dismiss them as mere ideals that are unpractical for our own lives. If you feel this way, welcome to the club! If you struggle with the weight of your own sinfulness, fears, insecurities and shortcomings, welcome to the human race. You are not alone!
Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself; God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. (St. Therese, Story of a Soul)
To be a saint, we often feel as though we must travel on mission trips selflessly serving the needs of others, or that this is a calling reserved only for a select number of holy priests and ministers. If only we did not have these jobs to do and have these families to take care of…then we would have time to be saints.
In the fullness of time, God found the greatest man on Earth who did whatever was asked of him, faithfully followed God’s will, didn’t have an enlarged ego, and was willing to lay down his life for others. With an instrument like this, God was able to give him the greatest mission he could possibly award…drum roll, please…to be a husband and father.
From what we know, the second greatest saint in history did not spend his days preaching around the globe. In fact, as we learned earlier, we have not a single word recorded of anything Joseph said. The second greatest saint in history was a father and a spouse. Notwithstanding his union with God, those two things defined St. Joseph more than anything else.
This is good news for us! It means that we can find holiness and sanctity directly in the context of our ordinary daily lives. Yes, even if your job is mindlessly mundane as you do the exact same thing for eight straight hours every day. You can still come home to your family with joy in your heart, eager to spend the next several hours playing with and taking care of your children. When the day is finally over, entrust it all to the Lord and appeal to him to provide you with the energy to do it again tomorrow. This is the great challenge that lies before us. We can become great saints if we desire it! The daily demands of life and family provide all the obstacles and challenges we need to be men of great virtue and sanctity.
St. Joseph became a great saint because his heart was filled with love, and love is precisely what passes through the grave into everlasting life. The family is where we first learn to love, and it can therefore be called the school of love. Love makes saints because love makes it way to heaven. To make it to heaven is to be a saint!
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things. Love is not self-seeking but is always at the service of others (Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). This defined the life of St. Joseph. He placed the needs of his wife and his son above his own. Why was Joseph so hidden? How could this obscure historical figure become the second greatest saint of all? As he lived his life completely for others, Joseph became smaller and smaller and his hiddenness “grew”. The wisdom of the Scriptures reveals this great paradox, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave to all” (Mark 10:43).
In Scripture, Joseph disappeared so that the glory of God would shine forth. Joseph did not need glory but offered his life for the greater glory of God. As St. John the Baptist boldly proclaimed, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3: 30). St. Paul said it another way, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The Jesuits founded an entire order on this maxim: AMDG (All for the Greater Glory of God).
- Where do you place all of your energy and effort in your life?
- Do you work for the greater glory of God or for other reasons?
- What drives you?
- In what ways can you decrease so that the Lord may increase?
- In what ways can you grow in holiness and become more saint-like in the context of your everyday life?
- What is holding you back?
Every generation has its saints. God is calling you.
Heavenly Father, place in me the desire to desire you more. A desire to become a saint right in the midst my everyday life. Help me experience your love and joy more abundantly so that I may bring joy to those around me. Open my heart and mind to learn from the example of St. Joseph. Amen.
St. Joseph, reveal to me Christ’s hidden face present in my children. Teach me to manifest for them the Father who is rich in mercy. Amen.